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Wed, Oct. 23

Statehouse filled with 'photo' bills
Lawmakers have introduced at least 14 bills to limit the use of highway cameras

KINGMAN - State legislators have heard calls from disgruntled Arizona motorists loud and clear. Get rid of or limit photo speed enforcement cameras and change the license plate display law.

Currently, there are at least eight bills in the Arizona House and another six in the Arizona Senate that would limit how photo enforcement systems are used in the state.

The system is used to enforce speed limit and other traffic laws along roads. It usually issues a notice of violation, which is not a traffic ticket, but a notice to a motorist that a traffic ticket may be in the mail.

The House bills add on various requirements to the existing law, such adding flashing lights to signs warning of a photo enforcement camera, requiring that motorist be exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 11 miles per hour before a notice could be issued and requiring a traffic ticket be issued.

House Bill 2168 would require the Arizona Department of Public Safety to conduct a study to determine if a photo enforcement system was necessary on the roadway and if there were alternative means of slowing motorists or increasing safety on the roadway. It would also limit where cameras are located and how powerful the flash on the camera could be.

Other bills prohibit the state from using the photo systems in certain ways, such as assessing points against a driver's license or using the photo system for anything other than detecting traffic violations relating to signs, signals, markers and excessive speed. Currently, all the House bills are still in committee.

Most bills in Senate have similar provisions, except Senate Bill 1460, the 2009 Photo Enforcement Bill of Rights.

SB 1460 combines many of the House and Senate bills into one large bill. The bill applies to both mobile and stationary photo systems. It requires three brightly lit signs warning motorists of a enforcement camera at intervals of 100, 300 and 600 feet from the camera. It gives motorists the right to argue that the warning signs were not properly displayed. It also states that the state cannot use a photo as evidence if the driver is not the legal owner of the vehicle, the driver cannot be identified because the photo is blurry, or there are two or more vehicles in the photo and cannot be determined which vehicle tripped the camera.

It prohibits cameras between the entrance ramp of a highway and the first speed limit sign, within 60 feet of a decrease in speed sign, where any temporary speed limit signs are posted and in any area where the speed limit was reduced in the last 60 days. It also prohibits the government from collecting more than 10 percent of its revenue each fiscal year from the penalties arising from the photo system. And it prohibits a third party contractor from sending out violation notices and collecting fees.

There are another three bills in the Senate and three in the House attempting to repeal or change a new law that governs how vehicle license plates are displayed. The current law requires that the name of the state be visable on all Arizona vehicle license plates.

It was passed in 2006 and went into effect the beginning of this year.

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